Turkish president tells German newspaper jailed correspondent is a terrorist
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in an interview published yesterday, told the German newspaper Die Zeit that Die Welt Turkey correspondent, Turkish-German dual national Deniz Yücel, is a terrorist because he interviewed a leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization.
“Public prosecutors in Istanbul have discovered that Deniz Yücel spoke with one of the PKK leaders in the Qandil Mountains, that he participated in meetings organized by the PKK, and that he conducted propaganda on behalf of the separatist terror organization,” Erdoğan told Die Zeit.
“In my opinion, such a person is a supporter of terrorists because he knows that this person is a terrorist,” the president continued. “What do you want to talk about with a terrorist? And where do you want to publish it? If you publish the thoughts of a terrorist in your publication, what is that? That is the publishing of terrorism itself. By doing so, you are abetting the propaganda of the terrorists. That is how it is seen by courts around the world, because they say: That is aiding and abetting the thoughts of terrorists, and that is a crime.”
Police arrested Yücel in February as part of an investigation into leaked emails from Energy Minister (and Erdoğan’s son in law) Berat Albayrak.
Yesterday the website Medyatava, which reports on the Turkish news media, reported that Yücel’s case was taken out of this investigation, and into another. The journalist’s lawyers said the only notice of the development they received was a new case number.
The journalist’s case is before the European Court of Human Rights. Yesterday his lawyer, Veysel Ok, tweeted that the ECHR is expecting an answer from the Turkish government regarding Yücel’s detention by October 21.
Human rights defenders arrested
Police last night arrested at least nine human rights defenders in Istanbul, the news website Bianet reported today. Among those arrested were: Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkıran, of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly; İlknur Üstün, of the Women’s Coalition; İdil Eser and Veli Acu, of Amnesty International; Günal Kurşun, of the Human Rights Agenda Association; Nejat Taştan, of the Association for Monitoring Equal Rights; and Şeyhmuz Özbekli and Ali Garawi. Police did not immediately make public any information about the activists’ whereabouts, Bianet reported.
Two media workers released on probation
Leyla Yıldız and Murat Karakas, two employees of the daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi detained on July 3, were released on probation yesterday, the press freedom collective Ben Gazeteciyim (“I am a Journalist”) reported on Twitter.
Website applies to Guinness Book for world record in censorship
The leftist news website Sendika.org applied to the Guinness Book of World Records for the record as the world’s most-censored website, Bianet reported yesterday. The website is now accessible in Turkey at the address sendika50.org, after Turkish authorities blocked access to the site 49 times.
[July 6, 2017]
Columnist sentenced to four years in prison for ‘threatening’ Erdoğan
The Second Bakırköy Court for Serious Crimes in Istanbul yesterday sentenced Mümtaz’er Türköne, a former columnist for the shuttered daily newspaper Zaman, to four years and two months in prison on charges he threatened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the news website Diken reported yesterday. The charges stemmed from a 2016 column in which Türköne wrote that the founders of the stalled “peace process” between separatist Kurds and the Turkish state might be executed by clandestine forces he called “the state mentality.” The columnist explicitly wrote that he did not support this action.
Türköne, like many former journalists for Zaman, is already imprisoned on charges related to the failed military coup of 2016. He attended this trial by teleconference from prison, and pleaded not guilty.
Police detain reporter from his home
Police in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır arrested Mehmet Çakmakçı, reporter for the website Medyascope from his home yesterday morning for reasons yet unknown, the leftist daily newspaper Evrensel reported.
Media workers detained for possessing magazines
Police in southeastern Adana Province’s Ceyhan District detained Leyla Yıldız and Murat Karakas, two employees of the daily newspaper Özgürlükçü Demokrasi, on suspicion of “making propaganda for a [terrorist] organization,” because they were in possession of an unspecified publication, Evrensel also reported, without elaborating.
[July 5, 2017]
EDITOR’S NOTE: This text has been updated to correct Deniz Yücel’s employer: He is the correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt.